Guest Author - Jessica Smith
Where can you find poetry? Anywhere really. Look up poetry in the dictionary, and the first entry will read something like “the art of rhythmical composition” (dictionary.com), or “metrical writing” (merriam-webster.com). This is a true definition, but it's important to remember that it's not the only one. Poetry is more than just words and rhyme, rhythm and meter. While in the past people may have stuck to a strict definition of sonnet-like poetry, such strait-jacket ideas no longer limit us in the present day. Free verse- poetry without consistent (or often, without any) rhyme or meter- proves that such conventions aren't necessary to create good poems. Prose poetry even further blurs the line. Poets today are more free than they ever were before.
In fact, the true, deeper definition of poetry has stretched into almost every aspect of the written word. Poetry becomes, not a structure, but a meaning, an expression of beauty and truth. Songs are poems put to music. Novels contain passages that read as nicely as any poem (Virginia Woolf's modernist stream-of-consciousness style, for example). But those are easy examples. There's more to it than even that. The poetically minded can find poems anywhere- newspaper articles, shopping lists, recipes, product descriptions- wherever words are written. This is because while songs and novels may share the same beauty as traditional poems, newspapers and shopping lists and recipes share truths with poetry. Poetry represents aspects of life- events, emotions, simple single moments in time. The reason the greats are “the greats” is that their poetry echoes common threads and themes that remain unchanging and true throughout history. Where there is simplicity and truth, there is poetry.
So strong is the idea and the deeper meaning of poetry that it often goes beyond words. In fact, most dictionaries offer further definitions of poetry: “something suggestive or likened to poetry” (dictionary.com), or “something regarded as comparable to poetry in its beauty” (oxforddictionaries.com). This definition is most commonly used with the adjective “pure”. For example, “The dancer's movements were pure poetry”, or “the pure poetry of a clear spring morning”. Things that are beautiful and true are described as poetry, because that is its essence.
What does this all mean? It means that the world around you is full of beautiful and truthful things- it is full of poetry. Poems exist in all aspects of your life, their potential exists in everything you read or write. Poems exist in the physical world around you, in the flowers in the garden, the laughter of children in a park, the rusty wrecks in the junk yard, the practiced flick of the wrist of the woman at the cash register, the tired slump of a man's shoulders coming home from work, the glare of lamplights and the inky shadows of an alleyway, the glint of sunshine off a broken bottle, a blade of grass growing through a crack in the sidewalk. Poetry is a force, an awareness, an inner truth of the world. Open your eyes just a little, and you will see it everywhere.